Matt and Kim - Lightning (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Matt and Kim

Lightning (2012)


The word "fun," when used in reference to music, is usually synonymous with "bad." Fans can overlook musical shortcomings if the performers appear to be having a good time. Not so in the case of Matt and Kim, who have the tunes to back up their goofy smiles. 2010's Sidewalks was a big step up for the duo, in terms of both production value and songcraft, and while their followup, Lightning, doesn't stray too far from the trail blazed by that record, the group's overwhelming enthusiasm and knack for huge pop hooks make it impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to it.

"Let's Go" kicks things off on a high note. Hooks on top of hooks on top of hooks are the name of the game here. Its sunny keys and pounding beats set the pace for what's to come. It's bright, it's bouncy… it's a Matt and Kim single. Similarly great is "Overexposed;" a speedy, punk-tinged number that may very well overthrow Japandroids' "The House that Heaven Built" for the "Best Whoas of 2012" award. The mid-paced "I Said" has a darker tone than the rest of the album musically speaking, but it works as a change of pace, perfectly placed in the middle of the record to break things up a bit.

At times the duo's unrelenting energy can cross the line from endearing to corny, as seen in the chorus to "Now," which merely consists of the song's title being gang-shouted over and over again. It'll probably be a hell of a fun singalong in a live setting, but it's a hard track to just sit down and hear. The inverse is also true, however. When the group slows things down too much, as they do on album closer "Ten Dollars I Found," they lose the spark and peppiness that makes their music so enjoyable in the first place.

Thankfully the bulk of Lightning exists between those two extremes. "It's Alright" has "single" written all over it, even if its marching band rhythms lean a little bit too close to Sidewalks' lead single "Cameras." "Tonight" is infectious enough to have even the most jaded listener dancing across their bedrooms. The lyrics aren't Shakespeare, but they don't have to be. Lines like "Let's go get dirty / ‘Cuz your dress is too white" would sound ridiculous coming from almost any other act, but somehow they work here.

Matt and Kim may have come from a scene where every band tries to out-indie each other, but there isn't a hint of pretension to be found on Lightning. This is pure pop pleasure, with nothing to feel guilty about. If you want short and simple fun, and you're bored with Ramones-core, you've come to the right place.